Darling Farms’ Hold Air Hostage showed why he is the number-one-ranked older quarter horse in the nation with a total domination of his rivals in the Grade 1, $1,365,908 All American Derby on Sunday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.
Supporting the All American Derby was the $100,000 First Down Dash for horses that did not qualify for the All American Derby.
The win with Hold Air Hostage gave trainer James Padgett II and jockey Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo their second Grade I wins of the afternoon. Two races earlier on the program, Padgett and Vallejo combined to win the Grade 1, $200,000 All American Gold with Jessies First Down.
Hold Air Hostage scrambled from the starting gate and within several strides the 440-yard sprint was, essentially, over. He just powered away from the field to win by an easy two-and-one-quarter lengths in :21.231.
“I don’t want to sound too confident or like I’m bragging, but as soon as he broke in front, it was over,” said Padgett. “I mean, the horse is a monster. He’s the fastest horse I’ve ever seen. Once he left like that, all that was left was the screaming.”
Johnny Trotter’s One Sweet Racy finished second by a neck over Duponte, owned by breeder Bobby Cox with Homero and Kristen Paredes.
Hold Air Hostage raced to his fifth consecutive victory and he has two Grade 1 wins during this winning streak. He moved to the number-one position after his one-and-three-quarter-length victory in the Grade 1, $1,150,000 Rainbow Derby on July 22. He started the winning streak by taking the Grade 2, $297,000 Heritage Place Derby on June 3.
“We’re going to wait until tomorrow, at least, before we decide what to do next with the horse,” said Padgett. “I’d like to take him to the Champion Of Champions (in December at Los Alamitos) but we’ll have to see.
“This is special. I’ve had a lot of people along that way that put me in this position. My mentor and old boss, Judd Kearl, helped me along the way and put me in the position where we could do our job and perform.”
The Trey Wood-trained One Sweet Racy gained a valuable Grade 1 stakes placing that enhances her status when she becomes a broodmare. The well-bred daughter of One Sweet Jess raced in the Rainbow Juvenile last year.
Raul Ramirez Jr. rode One Sweet Racy.
Third-place finisher Duponte has been a force in the Grade 1 ranks since his two-year-old season. Last year, he won the Grade 1, $1-million Heritage Place Futurity.
Also from the Padgett barn, Duponte was ridden by Jose Amador Alvarez.
In the 440-yard First Down Dash, Paragon Farms, LLC’s Ruidoso Derby winner Tough To Bee held off a furious rush from All American Futurity winner Imperial Eagle to win by a diminishing neck.
The Ricky Ramirez-ridden Tough To Bee was timed in :21.421.
Tough To Bee, in the second post position, got the jump on Imperial Eagle, coming out of the third post position. Imperial Eagle, with Esgar Ramirez up, was bumped at the start and then shifted gears into his long, extending stride midway through the race. He was closing, however was unable to get past the game Tough To Bee.
Eyesa Texan was one-and-a-quarter lengths back in third.
Tough To Bee has had an impressive summer at Ruidoso Downs for trainer Trey Wood. He finished on even terms with Magical Jess in the Grade 1, $800,000 Ruidoso Derby and won his All American Derby trial by one length as the odds-on favorite. He won the $62,000 Mr Master Bug Handicap at Remington Park this spring.
A gelding by Apollitical Jess, Tough To Bee was third in last year’s Grade 1, $1-million Ruidoso Futurity and third in the Grade 1, $1-million Texas Classic Futurity.
Christina and the Estate of Charles Robinson’s Imperial Eagle, the 4-5 favorite, does his best work on Labor Day weekend. He won last year’s Grade 1, $3-million All American Futurity by a neck over The Marfa Lights.
The gelding by One Famous Eagle went on to guarantee the 2016 champion two-year-old title with wins in the Grade 1, $200,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship and the $200,000 Sunland Winter Juvenile.
Garlyn Shelton’s homebred Eyesa Texan was never in contention for the win, but picked up third place at 18-1 odds. The John Stinebaugh-trained gelding was third in the $100,000 Corona Cartel.
For complete Ruidoso Downs’ information, go to www.raceruidoso.com, visit the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino Facebook page and follow the Ruidoso Press Box (@RuiPressBox) on Twitter.